Why Feminine Leadership?
10 years ago I developed a workshop entitled “The 7 Irrefutable Laws of Feminine Leadership” (yes, the title was influenced from John Maxwell’s book “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”). I came up with this workshop after reading this book because there were certain things he never discussed that I encountered simply because I was a woman. It’s still one of my favorite books and I highly recommend you read it.
Every year I get requests to do this workshop. It’s not one of my favorites, only because it’s the one workshop that I allow myself to be completely transparent . It’s a workshop that is born out of EVERY mistake I’ve made in leadership. Honestly, it’s embarrassing. Also, it is the one workshop I do in which at some point a participant (usually a woman in her early 20s) will stand up and boldly declare I’m taking women back to the 1950’s. The tirade usually ends with her telling me “You sold out” or “You’ve lost yourself.” During the tirade I always pan the room to look at facial expressions: the mature women always have the look “she’ll learn” whereas the younger women are agreeing with the tirade. I can never get angry because when I was in my early 20s I felt the same: I can do anything a man can do (and most likely do it better) and it’s not fair there’s a double standard.
Ability is never the issue. We can argue over the double standard for years to come. I finally experienced peace at work when I started to look at the “double standard” as a relationship dynamic. I’m not talking about doing the same job as a man and getting paid less. I’m talking about navigating through the storms male egos on the org chart and not getting caught up in the under currents of Napoleonic Complexes.
I see feminine leadership as a map through relationship terrain. Is it fair that a man can lose his temper at a meeting and he’s considered manly, but when a woman does it she get’s called ‘emotional’ or even worse the ‘B’-word? Or is it fair that two women argue at a meeting, it’s considered a cat-fight and petty? Absolutely not, but it is the reality we deal with daily. But why argue over the landscape when we can easily navigate through it.
Understanding the dynamics of relationships especially those with the opposite sex, has led to a rewarding experience of self-discovery and leadership development. As I rework my workshop, I plan to write posts on this topic. I hope you are encouraged to join the journey! Tomorrow: Pt. 2 What is Femininity?